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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Guy Who Wins When You Lose

Remember Jacob Appel, the Golden Appel? The guy who wins all the contests you lose. Well, an anonymous reader sent in this update about him, another win, and a story you can read and judge...something about the "irrelevancy" of "stolen baboons." The anonymous submitter of this item says: "He beat me twice in one week in two different genres! Maybe he's cheating :)"

Anyway, mazel tov, dude....once again.


Anonymous said...

It's obvious to me that this fellow can write. I very much liked a story of his in the Missouri Review. It was funny and heart-felt and real.

Now, that said: I think the nature of these contests is that they tend to favor quirky fiction.

Think about it: you're a screener or editor and you've got five hundred submissions. Something with a purloined ape is going to be awfully refreshing.

It also never hurts to have a long line of past wins. A screener can look at that list and recommend your current offering with a high degree of confidence. "Oh, well, he's won all these other contests..."

But the writing has to be there first--no doubt.

Anonymous said...

while i agree that appel obviously is talented, and the fact he wins may have something to do with the fact he's won many contests before, what i wonder is why does he even enter contests in the first place?

he's been published in more lit mags than i've ever read, already won a ton of prizes, and is even in the journal of clinical ethics and the hastings center report? not to mention he's admitted to the new york bar and he's a licensed new york city sightseeing guide.

my point is not to belittle his accomplishments, for which he should be proud. but someone who already is publishing everywhere doesn't need the imprimatur of a contest for validation -- either to himself, publishers, editors, agents, or mfa faculty.

maybe it's a compulsion on his part, i don't know. it's almost like joyce carol oates publishing everywhere -- that's one less story by a little-known writer that's going to see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

yes, this is exactly what exasperates me about publishing. just WHO CARES about all these lit mags? who reads them? why? where are they? how are they done? who makes them? what do they do? where do they go? the fact is THEY MEAN NOTHING in the world. but if you write stories, there is nowhere else to go.

Anonymous said...

There's no crying in baseball, folks. If you want to win this contest (or any contest, it seems) you must beat Jacob Appel. Simple as that. Or else only enter contests for folks who haven't published before, like the Glimmer Train short story for new writers.

I mean, if you Appel and you're walking down the street and you see a thousand bucks just lying there...aren't you going to pick it up?

It's the green, yo.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous above. It's the money. The two biggest payouts I've received for my short fiction were from contest wins. I'll take the cheque over "contributor copies and the glory of exposure" any day of the week.

-Blue Ribbon Anon

Anonymous said...

gang, i agree that contests pay out more than general submissions. but if you're good enough to win a friggin contest, can't you get published in a mag that'll give you at least a hundred bucks or two for your story?

so i don't know if i buy the last few comments. because these contests cost $$$ to enter. ok, if you guys entered and so did appel, and appel won, you're all out what, thirty bucks? you do that for ten contests and you're out 300 bucks, so who cares if you win one of them that pays $300?

i won some good dough at a poetry contest once. maybe it was luck. but i don't enter those contests anymore because that thousand bucks isn't just laying there on the street - you have to beat out everybody else, and on top of all that you're paying for the chance. it's crazy. completely insand.

Anonymous said...

Winners tend to win...that's all I'm saying.

Obviously there's talent involved. But you gotta figure that these pubs use the contests to 1.) make a little money for themselves; and 2.)spread the word about their magazine/organization. When you attach the big name to your little mag or organization, you get instant cache. We must be hot shite if Jacob Appel is associated with us.

And if you don't believe the whole big-name theory, then why have Bob Butler be the judge? They're managing appearances.

And good for them, I say. I just don't enter the contests unless my entry fee gets me a copy of the magazine for a year. Then it feels less like rejection and more like philanthropy. Which, I guess, was invented by rejects (see the life history of Alred Nobel.)

Writer, Rejected said...

You are all so wise:

1) There *is* no crying baseball. (greatest movie quote: I say it all the time).

2)Philanthropy *was* invented by rejects. It's all suddenly so clear.

3) Why shouldn't Golden Appel enter many, many contests? He wins many of them. He gets published, gets some dough, and enriches his artist's resume. I think the guy is f***ing brilliant. He's got something figured out.

(Is it what I want to do with my time here on earth: win literary contests No. I've won some in my time, but then I got side-tracked by trying to write a novel that says something important about a topic that's important to me, and maybe that will last past next Tuesday. People have their priorities, I guess, and mine is no better or more unrealistic than anyone else's. That's for sure.)

z said...

I'm most envious that he is a licensed New York City sightseeing guide. He reminds me of Zelig.

Anonymous said...

If you guys are right that these magazines are playing games with their contests, they should be totally called on that. Still doesn't solve the problem of getting stories read by the masses. (Not that contests did either....)

Anonymous said...

Google him and you get his full bio - he has some resume - BA, MA, MFA from all the write (gerrit) places plus published in over 60 literary mags, countless awards for fiction, non-fiction, plays, teaching... And from his picture he looks to be under 40. So why isn't he smiling?

Writer, Rejected said...

Seriously. That dude should be grinning ear to ear.

sisyphus said...

If I was in his position, I don't think I'd be grinning from ear to ear. I'd be crying.

Everyone knows that these contests are good for two things: 1) $ and 2)getting the attention of agents, who will be there when you're finally done growing your project into a book--& TO PUBLISH IT.

Mr. Golden Appel already has 80 published stories (refer to bio and his smushy, sun-avoidant complexion in accompanying photo, has a completed novel, or it is in the least in a final stage of readiness (refer to another award.

So why has he not published his novel, or in the least, a debut collection of stories(it is a high bar but possible for someone who wins so many contests)?

It's safe to say that this appel has already been queried and munched on by many, many agents.

My guess that he has an agent by now, who must be trying/have tried to shop around his manuscripts. it appears, with no luck yet.

Writer, Rejected said...

Well that's just effing depressing.

Anonymous said...

Is this also Jacob Appel?

in 2007 he mentions returning to the US (NYC, Rhode Island). matches his bio.

Some of the entries are great.

sisyphus said...

yeah, when i first learnt about him i felt pretty depressed too...

Writer, Rejected said...

Listen, the guy is young; he is (apparently) in Ghana, living life, gathering material for his amazing fabulous second novel about an American's experience in Ghana. Give him a break. Not everybody publishes their first novel. Think of Kerouac. Think of me. Let's allow the legend of J. Appel to live on; he's happy. He's won all the contests I lose. Some writer has to be happy somewhere, and I chose Jacob Ghana....dammit.